Parents should be able to expect that they will be able to continue to have a relationship with their child even if their marriage is ending or they are separating from one another. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines underscore just how important the parent-child relationship is, and point out that the Guidelines “are based on the premise that it is usually in a child’s best interest to have frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with each parent.” What will happen, then, if one parent violates a visitation order?
In considering what happens if a visitation order has been violated, it is important to understand that your court order likely will not be described as a visitation order in Indiana. Rather, the violation will likely be a parenting time violation. To be sure, Indiana no longer uses the term visitation to refer to the time a child spends with a parent, but instead describes it as parenting time.
While Indiana previously used the term visitation to refer to the time that a parent spends with his or her child, an amendment to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines explain that “the words ‘parenting time’ have been used instead of the word ‘visitation’ so as to emphasize the importance of the time a parent spends with a child.” Indeed, the commentary clarifies, “the concept that a non-custodial parent ‘visits’ with a child does not convey the reality of the continuing parent-child relationship.
If the custodial parent is refusing to allow you to have parenting time, or is refusing to allow you to see your child based on the terms set forth in a court order, you may be able to file a motion for contempt to compel the other parent to allow you to have parenting time based on the terms of the existing court order and to enforce the terms of that existing court order.
If the court agrees that the order has been violated, the violating parenting can be held in contempt of court. When this happens, the parent in contempt can be required to pay monetary fines and can even face jail time. In some cases, the court can also alter the child custody order so that the non-violating parent has certain custodial rights or additional parenting time.
It is important for parents in Indiana to know that unpaid child support is not an excuse or reason for denying parenting time or visitation. Even if a non-custodial parent has not contributed his or her child support obligation, the other parent cannot violate an existing parenting time or visitation order.
If you need help enforcing a visitation or parenting time order, it is essential to get in touch with an experienced Fort Wayne child custody attorney who can help you. You may have multiple options to have the order enforced. Our firm knows how important it is for children to have a relationship with both parents, and we can assist you with your case today. Contact The Bellinger Law Office for more information about how we can help.